This article first appeared last month in Cloud Computing Journal.
Think back to when you were a kid. Remember that thing you thought, felt, wanted or did that you were embarrassed about? You probably worried that you were the only person in the world who had that thought, feeling, desire or behavior. It was your Little Secret. Only as you got older did you figure out that it was actually pretty common, that everyone did that, or felt that way, at least once in a while. And that maybe it even had a name.
If you're a nerd like me, you probably had more than one of these.
As we've talked to customers, prospects and vendors in the industry, we've realized that the Cloud has a Little Secret. It doesn't have a popular name yet. But I'm here to reassure you that everyone does it. And it's okay if you do it too.
Before I let you in on the Secret, let's start with a little history.
The "cloud" terminology has been around for a while, but it was broadly popularized when Amazon Web Services started offering its S3 storage service and its EC2 compute service. With these services, you could easily store data or run software without owning or managing the physical infrastructure. Quickly, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies like Salesforce.com realized that there were similarities between their offerings (which had been around for almost a decade) and this new "cloud." So as not to be left out of the hype cycle, they started calling their offerings "cloud." Fair enough: indeed, with SaaS you don't have to manage the infrastructure or the software.
Lately, though, it seems that partisans of this model - I am talking specifically about SaaS that is shared-everything, and multi-tenant at the application and database level - are attempting to abscond entirely with the term. I've had industry analysts and others tell me that, for all intents and purposes, Cloud means multi-tenant SaaS. When I challenge this point of view by asking whether Amazon EC2 is "cloud," they mutter something about it being transitional, or mainly for online games, or for high-performance computing. Certainly it's not where enterprises or ISVs should be, according to this viewpoint.
Let's face it; shared-everything SaaS has a lot of advantages. It's easy to get started, you can access it from anywhere, the pricing model is subscription-based rather than license-based, and you don't need any technical skills or staff to use it. It just works. Standing Cloud uses Rally, Google Apps, Beanstalk and Desk.com. We certainly have no aversion to the model.
But there is another way to deploy software in the cloud and deliver it as SaaS. Forbes columnist Dan Woods and the folks at SugarCRM sometimes call it "Distributed SaaS." I like to call it "cloud-premises" or "virtualization SaaS" (vSaaS). I'm sure there are other names floating around, but none in common use.
The Naughty Little Secret of the Cloud is that people are deploying their applications as a distinct instance on Infrastructure-as-a-Service virtual servers. It's multi-tenant, but through server virtualization rather than application code, and therefore is not "shared everything." We've talked to many companies and ISVs who are doing this, and some feel vaguely embarrassed about it, as though they were doing something wrong. But they needn't feel that way. A lot of people do this, and they have good reasons for it, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
Read the rest of the article here.